East York Runners creates community bonds through the simple act of running 

Sometimes all you need is a little support to kick start your goals

East York Runners members at their weekly Saturday run in the community (Photo by James Clayton) 

The East York Runners is a fun and social community of runners who enjoy gathering together to share something in common, the love of early morning runs, health and community. They are aiming to bring in new members and to continue to expand the word throughout East York.

The startup was initially established in 2009 but was taken over by one of the club’s current organizers, James Clayton, back in 2010. Clayton began his running career in 1998 and was looking for a club to be a part of in the East York area. 

“I started looking up places and I saw this East York Runners group. So when I went, nobody [was] there. After the second time there was [only] one person,” he said in a phone interview with The Toronto Observer.

Clayton, 60 year-old lithographer, felt that the East York Runners needed some sort of routine to get into the habit of running, he configured the running times to reoccur saturday mornings at 8 a.m. Clayton noticed a lot of mothers liked it because they could get their runs in before their kids wake up.

“People just started coming like crazy because I made it at the same time. That’s how it started. We’d run for an hour and then have coffee and it just grew.”

Clayton provides the routes and noticed that “Saturday morning would generate the biggest group” of 20 plus runners and they were people of all types. You can be a beginner and the members would help you find your way.

“A lot of them come out and they want to be a better runner or they want to improve their health. And then once they realize how friendly and nice the group is, they actually keep coming.” 

East York Runners making a stop at Ashbridges Bay near Woodbine beach. (James Clayton photo)

Devin McBride, 36, has been a member of the East York Runners for just over three years and he happens to also be a part of the organizers crew, alongside Daniel Ptak, Doug Holt and Patrick Brisebois.

As a new resident of the area, McBride was looking to find a group that shares the same love of running.

“I was new to East York looking for some new people to run with and came across this group on Meetup and they were very warm and welcoming. About a year ago I stepped up in the group to help out James organizing runs within the group,” he said.

The community behind the runners club is what kept McBride committed to his health and running goals considering that can sometimes be a difficult thing to stick with.

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“This group has 100 per cent helped me get into my best running shape, Getting up at 7 a.m. to go for a run when the weather is anything but co-operative is so much easier with a supportive community,” he said.

Clayton and McBride both shared that this runners club is such a positive and friendly experience that any goal you want to accomplish can be done because you have a great support system.

“It may start off as a health thing or running thing but then you realize there’s more to it than meets the eye,” Clayton said.

The community behind this club has been recognized for pushing people to great heights that they may have not even considered to be attainable themselves.

Four group members are the result of that. Harsih Yadav, Sasa Kulic, Simon Withers, and Daniel Ptak have qualified to run in the Boston Marathon on April 17. 

“You have to run a marathon in a specific time for your age group which is rather difficult now because everybody wants to do the Boston Marathon and these guys did it in smashing times,” Clayton said. 

Daniel Ptak (Left), Simon Withers, Harish Yadav, and Sara Kulic coming together after their run in the Boston Marathon race on April 17. (Sophia No and Doug Holt photo)

“Not too many [running] groups have this many guys going to Boston.”

Clayton shared that this opportunity is a big deal and knows how hard this group has worked and trained to get to where they are now.

“East York runners is like a family and I love them like a family. We are always there for one another, picking each other up when we’re down. I am very thankful to be a part of such an amazing running community,” McBride said.

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Posted: Apr 20 2023 9:20 am
Filed under: News